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Tianwen-1: China's Mars Mission

  • 20 May 2021
  • 4 min read

Why in News

Recently, China’s spacecraft Tianwen-1 landed on Mars carrying its first Mars rover named Zhurong.

  • It became the third country to land on Mars after the US and Soviet Union.
  • China's previous ‘Yinghuo-1’ Mars mission, which was supported by a Russian spacecraft, had failed after it did not leave the earth's orbit and disintegrated over the Pacific Ocean in 2012.

Key Points

  • About the Tianwen-1 Mission:
    • Launch:
      • The Tianwen-1 Spacecraft was lifted off on a Long March 5 rocket, from the Wenchang launch center in July 2020.
    • Three Parts:
      • The Spacecraft consists of three parts - the orbiter, the lander and the rover - which separated in Mars orbit.
      • The orbiter will remain in the orbit for scientific operations and to relay signals while the lander-rover combination has made an autonomous descent and landing.
        • The lander from Tianwen-1 has touched down on Utopia Planitia, a large plain in the northern hemisphere of Mars.
    • Objectives:
      • To conduct scientific investigations into the planet’s soil, geological structure, environment, atmosphere and water.
        • The mission will be the first to place a ground-penetrating radar on the Martian surface, which will be able to study local geology, as well as rock, ice, and dirt distribution.
  • China’s Other Space Programmes:
  • Other Mars Missions:

Mars

  • Size and Distance:
    • It is the fourth planet from the Sun and the second-smallest planet in the Solar System.
    • Mars is about half the size of Earth.
  • Similarity to the Earth (Orbit and Rotation):
    • As Mars orbits the Sun, it completes one rotation every 24.6 hours, which is very similar to one day on Earth (23.9 hours).
    • Mars' axis of rotation is tilted 25 degrees with respect to the plane of its orbit around the Sun. This is similar to Earth, which has an axial tilt of 23.4 degrees.
    • Mars has distinct seasons like Earth, but they last longer than seasons on Earth.
      • Martian days are called sols—short for ‘solar day’.
  • Other Features:
  • The reason Mars looks reddish is due to oxidation or rusting of iron in the rocks, and dust of Mars. Hence it is also called the Red Planet.
  • It has the largest volcano in the solar system i.e. Olympus Mons.
  • It has two small moons, Phobos and Deimos.

Source: TH

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